Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Definition of Ready (DoR)

All good agile teams have a Definition of Done (DoD) - the common set of criteria that every feature must meet before it's considered complete. I wrote about the DoD previously in this post. But what about a Definition of Ready? How do you know when your backlog items are ready for the team to accept them?

Serge Beaumont spoke on this topic among others at the 2009 Scrum Gathering in Munich in his presentation Practical Tools for the Product Owner: Focus, Value, Flow. He describes the Definition of Ready as a negotiation between the Product Owner and the team, where the team ultimately decides if a backlog item (user story) is defined well enough for the team to estimate and implement. His checklist for the DoR for backlog items includes:
  • Why? Business Value
  • What? Outcome vision
  • How? Implementation strategy & cost
  • Does the backlog have enough items for 1 and half to 2 sprints?
  • Is the size (granularity) of the backlog items acceptable?
I would personally aim for a smaller number of items in the "ready" state; 2 sprints worth of items increases the risk that time will be spent analyzing items that end up in the trash heap.

Serge also advocates using a kanban board with 4 phases to track the readiness of backlog items:
  • New
  • Preparing (going through analysis)
  • Ready
  • In sprint
I'll be adding the DoR as a standard part of my Scrum implementations.

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